Governance vs. Self-Government
Martin Papillon (reference below) argues that the earlier commitment of federal and provincial governments to Aboriginal self-government has been replaced by a broader focus on “Aboriginal governance.”
Papillon states (p. 114):
“A careful examination of existing self-government agreements suggests a fundamental gap still exists between the ideal of self-government, as understood by Aboriginal peoples, and the reality on the ground. The shift in emphasis to governance, which displaces the negotiation of formal self-government agreements in favour of sector-specific agreements for the management of programs and services, further reinforces this gap between principle and practice.”
He argues (p. 114) that the shift has to be seen in its broader historical context:
“Politics matter here. The idea of an inherent Aboriginal right to self-government gained currency at a time of great institutional instability. The constitutional battles of the 1980s and successive Supreme Court decisions defining the scope and meaning of Aboriginal rights proved a fertile ground for Aboriginal peoples to have their governing rights recognized by Canadian governments. The context shifted drastically in the mid-1990s, as deficits and economic preoccupations came to occupy the forefront of the political agenda. Autonomy for First Nations came to be equated with economic self-sufficiency rather than with an inherent political right. It is in this context – as Aboriginal rights claims encounter neoliberal governance – that the battle for self-government is now fought.”
Martin Papillon (2014), The Rise and Fall of Aboriginal Self-Government, in Canadian Politics, 6th ed., eds. James Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon, pp. 113-131. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
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Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 1 October 2016.
Image: Martin Papillon (2014), The Rise and Fall of Aboriginal Self-Government, in Canadian Politics, 6th ed., eds. James Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon, pp. 113-131. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.